Dallas Doings

DJHS’ Harold A. Pollman Lecture Series presents “Lunchtime Conversations”

Wednesday, March 14, marks the second installment of a new initiative by The Dallas Jewish Historical Society (DJHS) — Lunchtime Conversations — that brings a top-notch scholar to Dallas to provide provocative mid-week, lunchtime discussions. Part of the DJHS’ Harold A. Pollman Lecture Series, guest speaker, Marni Davis’ program is titled “Jews and Booze.”
At the turn of the century, American Jews and prohibitionists viewed one another with growing suspicion. Jews believed that all Americans had the right to sell and consume alcohol, while prohibitionists insisted that alcohol commerce and consumption posed a threat to the nation’s morality and security.
The two groups possessed incompatible visions of what it meant to be a productive and patriotic American — and in 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution made alcohol commerce illegal, Jews discovered that anti-Semitic sentiments had mixed with anti-alcohol ideology, threatening their reputation and their standing in American society. You can read more about Harriet Gross’ family’s bootlegger experiences on page 19 of this week’s issue.
In “Jews and Booze,” Davis examines American Jews’ long and complicated relationship to alcohol during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the years of the national prohibition movement’s rise and fall. Bringing to bear an extensive range of archival materials, Davis offers a novel perspective on a previously unstudied area of American Jewish economic activity — the making and selling of liquor, wine, and beer — and reveals that alcohol commerce played a crucial role in Jewish immigrant acculturation and the growth of Jewish communities in the United States.
But prohibition’s triumph cast a pall on American Jews’ history in the alcohol trade, forcing them to revise, clarify and defend their communal and civic identities, both to their fellow Americans and to themselves.
Davis is assistant professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She is the author of “Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition” (New York University Press, 2012), which explores American Jews’ relation to alcohol production and their attitudes toward alcohol consumption during the years of the national prohibition movement’s rise and fall.
Her article, “’No Whisky Amazons in the Tents of Israel’: American Jews and the Gilded-Age Temperance Movement,” was published in the journal American Jewish History in September 2008.
Her essay on the development of an anti-Semitic strain within the American prohibition movement will appear in a collection on the historical encounter between Jews and American capitalism in 2012.
Guests for this program are asked to bring their own dairy brown bag lunch. Beverages will be provided for the program, which begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road. Admission is free and the program is open to the public.
Reservations are required as space is limited. Call 214-239-7120 or e-mail the DJHS at dtobias@djhs.org to make your reservation.

Why the Jews Rejected Jesus

If there is one thing that Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger learned from the recent wildly successful Dallas Jewish LearningFest, it is this: If you want to get Jews to come in large numbers to classes about Judaism, mention the name Jesus in the title of the class!
Two classes were offered by Rabbi Schlesinger at the Learning Fest. The first Sunday he taught a session entitled “Between Husband and Wife: Extricating Ourselves From the Garden of Eden.” Although the presentation was extremely well received by an audience of about 45 people, that was nothing compared to the group that showed up the next Sunday of the LearningFest. One hundred sixty five people made their way to Zale Auditorium to take in the rabbi’s talk on “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus!”
The session was described by one participant as “stellar … full of charisma and confidence, a most inspiring and persuasive combination.” Many commented that the presentation opened their “eyes to a new level of comprehension concerning the differences between Judaism and Christianity.”
“If you teach something relevant to people’s lives, then they will come to learn,” commented Rabbi Schlesinger, reflecting upon the overwhelming turnout. “Look, Jesus is relevant,” he continued. “We live in the buckle of the Bible Belt of a Christian country. Mention of Jesus is all over the place. And we Jews know that he was Jewish but we know almost nothing about him except that we don’t believe all the things that Christians say about him. And usually, we don’t know why we don’t believe all those things! So of course people are going to be attracted to come and learn about it.”
If you missed the presentation, or if you were there and want to go deeper into the subject, then here is your chance. On Thursday, March, 15 at 7:30 p.m., Rabbi Schlesinger will be commencing a 10-week series at Congregation Beth Torah devoted to “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus.”
This series is part of the new trimester of classes beginning in mid March offered by the Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas, of which Rabbi Schlesinger serves as the executive director and Community Rabbinic Scholar. Together with his colleague Rabbi Joel Zeff, they teach about 15 different weekly adult education classes in the Greater Dallas area.
Among the new courses to be offered throughout the metroplex are: “Gems of Hassidic Thought for the non-Hasid,” “Talmud with Training Wheels,” “Grappling with the Mysterious,” “Contemporary Topics in Jewish Law,” “Ethics and Philosophy,” “From Slavery to Sinai,” and others.
There are also yearly courses that one can always join. JSI offers daytime, evening and Sunday classes.
For more information, send an email to ravhanan@sbcglobal.net or call 214-789-7241 or go to www.jewishstudiesinitiative.org.

$450 in prizes to be awarded in Dallas Holocaust Museum student art contest

March 23 is the deadline for local students to submit entries for the 2012 Art Contest sponsored by the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. Winners will split $450 in prize money.
The contest theme — “April 19, 1943: Choosing to Act” — centers around the Museum’s core exhibition which focuses on that day in the Holocaust.
Students in grades six to 12 are encouraged to research the events that occurred on April 19, 1943 in the Holocaust and respond in an artistic way to those events, the choices made and the people who made them. Teachers and students are also encouraged to visit the Museum as part of their preparation for the contest.
Art work in any two-dimensional medium may be submitted, as long as it is received by the contest deadline of March 23. Complete contest rules are available at the Museum’s website, www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org.
Winners will be recognized in two contest categories — sixth through eight grade and ninth through 12th grade. First place winners in each category will receive $100, second place $75 and third place $50.
Winners will be announced April 5, and students will be personally invited to attend the Museum’s Yom Hashoah program on April 19, where their art work will be displayed and they will be formally recognized and presented their awards.
Dr. Tamara Freeman, a nationally recognized Holocaust educator, will present a music lecture-recital from the Holocaust’s Jewish ghettos at the annual Yom Hashoah remembrance, which will be held at Temple Shalom on April 19 at 6:30 p.m.
The 2012 Art Contest in supported in part by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Business Scene:

ShopLocalDFW.com is partnering with local independent retailers in the Dallas Fort Worth area, including several Jewish-owned companies, to promote visiting independent retailers throughout the Dallas Fort Worth area.
Each month, ShopLocalDFW.com hosts Third Thursdays, where local businesses in North Texas feature special deals to encourage people to come out and visit the local shops in their community. This month’s event is on Thursday, March 15th.
Many Jewish-owned small businesses are participating in the Third Thursday promotion including Sunnyland Patio Furniture, Woody Mann Vacuum, Eden Café, Lone Star Judaica, KidBiz and more.
“Shopping local can be best summed up with one word: ‘better,’” says Randy Katz of Woody Mann. “By shopping local businesses, you will help support members of your local community, receive better information, find better products, receive better customer care and lastly reduce your carbon footprint by not traveling as far.”
Karen Katz of Eden Café agrees. “I was raised to believe that supporting family is very important. Due to the Holocaust our family became very small, so our Jewish congregation at the Temple became a part of our extended family, and we try to support them wherever we can. Additionally, being small business owners, we try to support small businesses like ours, within our community. I believe that McDonalds, Walmart, etc. will be just fine, even in this economy, without my support, but my fellow small businesses and Jewish owned businesses need our support more now than ever, and I will be shopping there as much as I can.”
Added Brad Schweig of Sunnyland Furniture, “ShopLocalDFW.com’s primary goal is to bring awareness to of all of the great independent stores in the area. We are not asking people to stop going to the big box stores or chain restaurants because they serve an important need in our community. We just ask that consumers spend $50 per month at their favorite local businesses.”
Schweig founded ShopLocalDFW.com in October 2011. He heard Cinda Baxter, founder of the 3/50 Project, share ideas on how business can work together to promote independent stores in their community. “She inspired me to connect with other local retailers to help support each other, and our local economy,” said Schweig.
The 3/50 Project’s goal is to have consumers spend a total of $50 per month at their three favorite local independent business.
According to the 3/50 Project, for every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68 remains in the local economy.
In contrast, only $43 of every $100 remains local when spent in national chains, and little or no local revenue results from online purchases.
Other stores participating in Third Thursday include Collected Treasures, Longoria’s BBQ, Castle Gap Jewerly, A Toast To Texas, Olive Tree Market and many more.
We would like to hear from our readers! Send your news, simchas, awards and more to sharonw@texasjewishpost.com.

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